With everything going on in the world right now there are times where I want to sit back with a snack, turn off my brain, and enjoy a nice lighthearted movie with my wife. Enola Holmes—starring Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame, alongside one of my favorite nerd actors, Henry Cavill—hit that spot perfectly. Based on Nancy Springer’s book series, Enola Holmes features the first adventure of the younger sister of the renowned Sherlock Holmes (Cavill).
Mystery movies have always been a favorite of mine, and I was excited to see a fresh take on the Holmes name. I enjoyed the atmosphere the movie set, where the lightheartedness of breaking the fourth wall through quick quips and commentary from Enola blended with the very real themes of abandonment, political terrorism, and women's equality. The backdrop is a world where many people desire for society to remain as it is: a man's world, with women’s voices silenced. Enola takes this all in stride. Skeptical of the limits on education or the outfits women are required to wear, Brown mirrors what many viewers are likely thinking: this is ridiculous. Brown’s mocking of the customs required of women offered some of the comedy highlights of the movie, especially when contrasted with Cavill’s stoic and mostly custom-abiding Sherlock Holmes.
Though I do find this message important—and as a girl-dad I wish for my daughter’s voice to match anyone else's in influence and power—a different theme resonated more strongly for me in Enola Holmes. The relationship between Enola and her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) stood out to me because of how it mirrors the relationship between me and my heavenly father.
Enola's education was handled by her mother, Eudoria, rather than a proper governess, as dictated by the times. It is this education that prepared Enola for the journey ahead and helped refine her into the independent woman she becomes by the end of the movie. While many girls learned the art of reading and embroidery, Enola spent her time learning the art of fighting via jujitsu, learning the game of strategy through chess, and learning the value of critical thinking through reading. These lessons proved important when Enola is hit with the difficult news of her mother's silent and sudden disappearance.
Had Enola grown up under the tutelage of a governess, she may have gone away to a finishing school. However, thanks to the lessons given by her mother, she is prepared to face this new adventure. Enola quickly deduces that her mother’s disappearance was designed; she even left Enola clues about what to do next. Eudoria prepared her for what she knew was to come without telling her the outcome. Her fighting experience protects her numerous times from those attempting to harm her. The time she spent playing chess helped her analyze situations to find the clearest course of action. Her reading and knowledge gained from it helped her piece together the clues her mother left behind and solve the core mystery of the movie.
Thanks to the lessons given by her mother, she is prepared to face this new adventure.
This is reminiscent of how God works with us. There have been times in my life where lessons I have learned as a child or young adult apply to issues I run into today. I used to look back on my childhood, spent in an abusive, toxic home, as something only to hate. However, God and time have shown me these experiences would not go to waste and have even helped me walk others through similar hurts. The times I felt rejected by my closest “friends,” God used to develop a grace and understanding for those I see rejected in my life. The times I felt rejected, the times I spoke too quickly that I hurt those around me, the times I created victims, the times I was the victim, all have been used by God to help change, grow, and lead me toward the plan he has for my future. While I was lost in the circumstances I found myself, God was looking at how these situations could strengthen me for later.
Just like Enola's mother, God knows what is coming in my life. Eudoria knew she would be leaving her daughter and knew she needed to prepare her for that reality. Thankfully in my life, God knows and has a plan already laid out for me. He knows what is coming even though I cannot see it yet. The beauty is that God is already preparing me for it. Each lesson I am learning, both now and in the past, is what I need in order to be prepared for any trials and experiences in my future.
My rough family life growing up prepared me for my hopeful family life now. My rejection then prepared me for the potential rejection I receive as I take chances now. Going through financial strain helped me learn the value of a budget. Losing those I care about to suicide helped me learn the value of reaching out to friends struggling now. God did not waste anything. He used my home life as the catalyst that turned my eyes toward him. Every struggle, every lesson, has cultivated me into the man I am today, and will continue to until I finish this race.
When people go through struggle and trials, Christians sometimes say things like “everything happens for a reason” or “God doesn't waste a hurt.” Often we do this because we may not know what else to say. Such statements may be overused, but they still contain truth. Our difficulties are not always in vain; God can use them to form us while also furthering his kingdom and his glory.
Whatever you are going through today may seem difficult, unwelcomed, or impossible to overcome. Yet Romans 5 speaks on how these trials can produce perseverance, character, and hope. Don't lose sight of where he has taken you from and be encouraged that he will use this for both your gain and his glory. Just as Enola Holmes was prepared by her mother, take heart, God will continue preparing you for what he knows is ahead.